Don't Be Surprised If "Petty" Sean Payton Shows Up Tomorrow Night vs. the Cowboys
Petty. In the dictionary, the word "petty" is normally defined as: behavior characterized by an undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded way. Among the other words that can be used for the term are mean, hateful and spiteful. It can even be viewed as a "form of revenge".
And in the case of yesterday's "trash talking" by Dallas 5th year defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in advance of tomorrow night's showdown at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (suburban Dallas) between the (10-1) Saints and the (6-5) NFC East Division-leading Cowboys: it could be a term used to accurately depict the type of response or attitude that will be shown or expressed in return by Saints head coach Sean Payton — who over the years hasn't exactly been all that shy about being "petty" if someone provokes him.
In case you missed it somehow: Saints fans were completely "up in arms" throughout all mediums of Social Media yesterday over the comments made by Lawrence, the former Boise State University star who when asked by The Athletic.com Dallas Cowboys writer Calvin Watkinswhether or not if the Saints O-Line was the best one that they'd have to face all season, said that the Saints hadn't faced any defensive line as good as the Cowboys are.
Now grant it: what Lawrence said isn't so much of a big deal as the WAY in which he expressed himself while saying it, which was by doing so with a string of cuss words that could be taken as a slight or an insult.
"They're going to have to match our intensity," Lawrence said. "S---, for 60 minutes straight. If you hit a m-----f----- in the mouth and then they ain't doing what they're regularly doing, putting up 50 points, they start to get a little distressed. Now you got them where you want them at, and then you f---ing choke their ass out."
Not long after the comments went public, Saints fans and even a few select players such as Saints WR Michael Thomas were quick to have some responses of their own to Lawrence's comments in return.
Lawrence is the Cowboys'current leader in sacks with (8.5) of them, along with 25 QB "pressures" and 10 TFL's (tackles for loss). Additionally, he just recently made his first career interception during a Thanksgiving win last Thursday afternoon against the Washington Redskins.
Somewhat ironically, Lawrence actually went on to praise the Saints offense; which as of this moment leads the NFL in points scored (409) and is fifth in yards per game (416.6). And part of that success is because Saints QB Drew Brees — who has been well-protected this season by the #1 ranked Saints offensive line that Lawrence made the comments about — has only been sacked just 10 times in 11 games.
"They're like a Madden team," Lawrence said, making the comparison to the popular video game among young and older football fans alike.
In Lawrence's defense, an argument can be made that the 26-year old star was simply making the case that his own defense — a Cowboys defense that is currently allowing just 19.3 points per game and is ranked the 3rd best defensive unit in the entire NFL — is pretty good in their own right.
In fact: the Dallas defense this season hasn't allowed ANY NFL opponent that they've faced this season to score more than 28 points in a game against them.
But they also haven't faced an offense this year anywhere near the caliber of the Saints offense, who this year through 11 games played averages an NFL-leading 37.2 points per game and has scored at least 40 or more points in a game SIX DIFFERENT TIMES already.
Just in the past 4 games alone, the Saints offense has a whopping 175 points scored; coming in wins over the Rams (45 points scored ), Bengals (51 points), Eagles (48 points), and the Falcons (31 points).
By contrast: the MOST points scored allowed by the Dallas defense this season was to the Tennessee Titans; who scored 28 points in a Monday night game against the Cowboys 3 weeks ago (on November 5th).
But they certainly haven't faced an offense like the one that the Saints have; and now perhaps unfortunately for them: Lawrence's comments yesterday will now likely put them DIRECTLY in the cross-hairs of the Saints offensive attack; since New Orleans is very likely to use Lawrence's words as a source of motivation.
For old sports writers such as myself: that's often referred to as "bulletin board material".
And Lawrence clearly has now given the Saints and Sean Payton plenty of it.
Saints fans already know that in previous situations such as this when a rival or an opponent has done or said something to irk or draw the wrath of Payton, that he can respond in kind by going "all out" in expressing his own special brand of rebuttal.
Incidents such as running up the score on former Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams two years ago, the "choke sign" to the Falcons last year at Atlanta last season, or mocking the Vikings "Skol" chant in last year's NFL Divisional Playoffs at Minneapolis, is evidence of that very fact.
And you had better believe that with Lawrence's much-publicized comments from yesterday, that "Petty Sean Payton" will show up against the Cowboys tomorrow night.
That's not to say that the Saints could simply ignore the comments made yesterday by Lawrence, and just "go about their business" as they gave done pretty much this entire season anyway.
But given the very notable previous history between Payton and the Cowboys franchise (he was their former QB coach and defacto offensive coordinator before he left to coach the Saints in 2006), it would come as almost a shock of Payton somehow chooses not to respond,
And if you add in the factor that the Saints STILL can't seem to earn the respect of many within the National Media despite having won 10 straight games in a row and sitting on top of the NFL Power Rankingsas the undisputed #1 team in the entire NFL, it makes the possibility that we'll see "Petty Sean Payton" tomorrow night all that more likely.